A Seiko isn't really a Seiko unless it has a cult following. The green Seiko Alpinist, released in the mid-1990s, is one of those watches. Its double-crown, internal rotating bezel, and striking green dial have garnered a serious and passionate fan base. But it wasn't the first Alpinist. No, that watch came out in 1959. And now Seiko has revived the granddaddy Alpinist, both as an LE revival and a modern re-interpretation. Here we'll focus on the latter.
The new Seiko Prospex "The 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation" (SPB241, SPB243, and SPB245) represents a reinvention of the 1959 Alpinist – what many consider to be Seiko's first sport watch. Taking design cues from the '59 model, this new collection is markedly different from the "modern classic" Green Alpinist.
Where that watch featured a functional bezel, this new collection represents what amounts to a pared-down and distilled field watch. There's only one crown and no internal bezel. This a brand-new Alpinist, only, it looks like the old Alpinist. And that's a good thing.
The original Alpinist was designed to meet the needs of mountain climbers, hence the name. The model evolved over the years, eventually turning into the inner-bezel model that achieved Seiko cult status. Seiko still makes a version of that watch today.
With this new collection, there are now two modern Alpinist designs in the Seiko Prospex line at roughly the same price.
Where the rotating bezel models feel like something of an insider's choice, this new Alpinist hits a bit more broadly. This is a no-frills kind of watch – almost like Seiko's version of a Rolex Explorer.
The dial design is pretty faithful to the original 1959 model except for the inclusion of the date window at three o'clock. Add to that the fact that – unlike the original – these watches don't have the word Alpinist written anywhere on the dial, which is admittedly a bummer.
The stylized triangles at 6, 9, and 12 (as well as a piece of one at 3 o'clock), and dauphine-style hands all harken back to the original model. The dial text, however, features the 20 bar (200m) water resistance marking, and the Seiko Prospex logo, both modern additions. The Automatic wordmark, in contrast, is displayed in a retro script typeface. There's a real marriage of old and new at play here.
In all, Seiko offers three dial options to choose from: Grey, cream, and the signature Alpinist green. Each variant has markers and hands which are colored in what looks like a faux-patina-shaded application of Seiko's propriety Lumibrite material. The watches also feature a curved sapphire crystal. Unlike the inner-bezel variants, which clock in at 39.5mm in diameter, the new models are downsized to 39mm.
Inside this watch is Seiko's own 6R35 movement featuring hacking seconds, a date, and 70 hours of power reserve (visible through an exhibition caseback). Unlike the LE, these new models will join the Prospex line as regular production watches. The green dial variant comes on a leather strap, while the other two models are offered on a stainless steel bracelet.
The new Alpinist LE, while very cool, is limited. These watches are not, which is always great if you're considering one but need some time to think on it.
Model: Prospex The 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-interpretation
Reference Number: SPB241 (cream), SPB243 (grey), and SPB245 (green)
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Color: Cream, grey, and green
Indexes: Applied markers
Water Resistance: 200m
Strap/Bracelet: Bracelet on the SPB 241 and SPB243, and leather strap on the SPB245
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Frequency: 3 Hz